Botanical gardens are peaceful, relaxing, and a great place to see many different plants and flowers. There are actually several botanical gardens in Tampa Bay and can make for a fun day date or a relaxing solo adventure! Keep reading to learn about four botanical gardens you should visit in Tampa Bay.
What is a botanical garden?
A botanical garden usually has a wide variety of plants and flowers that are labeled with their botanical names. Some of these plants or flowers may be from certain parts of the world or have other unique features. The grounds are kept to ensure the plants and flowers are thriving and can also be used for research purposes. These gardens are beautiful and often make for a fun day exploring.
Where are the botanical gardens in Tampa Bay?
There are two botanical gardens in Hillsborough County and two in Pinellas County. Each one has unique features making them all fun to visit and each a different experience.
- Eureka Springs Conservation Park in Tampa, Florida
- University of South Florida Botanical Gardens in Tampa, Florida
- Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, Florida
- Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida
TIP: Many (but not all) of the botanical gardens in Tampa Bay are pet friendly.
How much time should I plan to spend at a botanical garden?
This can vary widely depending on the size of the botanical garden as well as how much time you spend taking pictures, reading signs, or just taking in the views. In general for most of the botanical gardens in Tampa Bay I would recommend a minimum of 30-45 minutes for a quick walkthrough. If you want to take your time, take a lot of pictures, or pack a picnic lunch you could easily spend 1 to 2 hours or more.
Eureka Springs Conservation Park
The first botanical garden in Tampa is Eureka Springs Conservation Park. This is a peaceful oasis right off I-4. The park was first established in 1938 by a botanist and traveler Albert Greensburg.
You can get lost in the gardens or walking along the nature trails. The entire park is relatively small at 31-acres total and I ended up walking around most of the park twice just to be sure I didn’t miss anything. There trail is approximately 0.75 miles and there is a combination of paved, unpaved, and boardwalk trails throughout the park.
The park is mostly shaded due to the numerous plants and trees lining the paths. The gardens have plaques that label many of the plants and flowers. I highly recommend taking a walk along the 0.3-mile boardwalk trail. There is also a greenhouse that has beautiful orchids that you don’t want to miss.
There were also a couple signs for a nature trail through the middle of the park that was marked closed for repairs. I am not sure how long it has been closed or an estimate of when that section may be reopening. If you plan to visit the park definitely keep an eye out for any signs.
Essential Information: Eureka Springs
- Location: 6400 Eureka Springs Road Tampa, Florida 33610
- Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM daily
- Fee: $2 per vehicle
- There are envelopes to put cash in or a pay station that accepts credit cards
- Amenities: boardwalk, walking trails, picnic tables, indoor shelter with tables, restrooms, benches throughout the gardens
- Additional fees may apply for shelter rentals
- Pet friendly
University of South Florida Botanical Gardens
The USF Botanical Gardens in Tampa are a great place to visit if you are looking to spend a little time in nature. The entire gardens are only about 16 acres, but once again there is plenty to see.
You can easily walk through the gardens in 20 to 30 minutes, but there is still plenty to see with over 3,000 plants, animals, and natural habitats. There is a mix of shade and sun throughout. I walked the entire grounds a couple of times making sure I didn’t miss any of the displays or hidden paths. Most of the area is unpaved trails or grassy paths.
When I recently visited there were several students throughout the gardens sketching, painting, and drawing. There are tables, chairs, and benches throughout the gardens to sit and relax. Many people also brought their own blankets to lay out on the ground. It would even be a great place to pack a picnic lunch.
Essential Information: USF Botanical Gardens
- Location: 12210 USF Pine Drive Tampa, Florida 33612
- Hours: Monday thought Saturday: 9 AM to 4 PM
- Fee: Admission can be paid at the plant house
- Adults: $5
- Seniors (60+)/Military: $4
- Children (6-13 years): $3
- Students (with valid USF ID): $1
- Amenities: Nature trails, benches, plant house, restrooms
- Pet friendly
The Florida Botanical Garden
This is the largest of the four botanical gardens in Tampa Bay at 100-acres. The Florida Botanical Garden is in Largo, Florida and is part of the Pinellas County Park system. The majority of the Florida Botanical Gardens is paved paths that are ADA accessible. There is a nature trail that is an unpaved grassy path. Between the paved garden paths and the nature trail you can easily walk over 2 miles.
While there are many plants and flowers to see as you walk along the paths there is limited shade throughout. If you decide to visit on a hot day, be sure to pack plenty of water. Some of the attractions include a butterfly garden, a cactus and succulent garden, cottage garden, herb garden, palm garden, rose garden, native plant garden, and more.
A fun seasonal event is the Holiday Lights in the Gardens. This event runs annually from late November to early January. A suggested donation of $10 per person is recommended for this event. Pets are welcomed, but are encouraged to visit early in the season or on weekdays when the crowds are smaller.
Essential Information: Florida Botanical Garden
- Location: 12520 Ulmerton Road Largo, Florida 33774
- Alternative entrance: 12211 Walsingham Road Largo, Florida 33774
- Hours: 7 AM to 5 PM
- Fee: FREE!
- Donations appreciated
- Amenities: ADA accessible paths, nature trail, picnic area, concession stand, restrooms
- Pet friendly
The last botanical garden in Tampa Bay I wanted to include is Sunken Gardens. It is located right off 4th street in St. Petersburg, Florida and is one of the oldest Florida roadside attractions. While the gardens are small at 4-acres, there is a lot to see.
Most of the pathways are paved and ADA accessible. There is also plenty of shade due to the tall trees towering over the walkways. There are also picnic tables scattered throughout the gardens making it another ideal spot to pack a picnic lunch.
One thing to be on the lookout for is a new history center that will be opening in Summer 2022. It is being renovated in the area the original 1940 entrance was.
This is a popular spot for nature enthusiast. You can see many different plants, flowers, and even animals while visiting. Animals you may spot include flamingos, tortoise, koi (ornamental carp), and several different birds including laughing kookaburras, umbrella cockatoo, and macaws
TIP: Be sure to pick up a brochure when you visit for a self-guided tour and to make sure you don’t miss anything while walking through the gardens.
Essential Information: Sunken Gardens
- Location: 1825 4th St. N. St. Petersburg, Florida 33704
- Hours: Monday through Saturday 10 AM to 4:30 PM; Sunday 12 PM to 4:30 PM
- Fee: Adults: $15; Seniors (62+): $12; Children: $6
- TIP: Check Groupon for buy one get one tickets for adults which is sometimes available!
- Amenities: Nature trail, picnic tables, gift shop, restrooms
- Service animals only
Final Thoughts on Botanical Gardens in Tampa Bay
Each of these botanical gardens are unique and full of a variety of plants, flowers, and even animals. Visiting a botanical garden is a fun way to spend time in nature with friends or family. Botanical gardens are also a nice solo activity because there are many others around so you have limited safety concerns. Have you visited in of the botanical gardens in Tampa Bay yet? Comment below and let me know which is your favorite or which one you plan to visit next.